the dark, it quivers

Photo by Michael McCauslin
the dark, it quivers             
I loved your skin
lit me through
you see
until we
in between
the bully
the nails
we suffer
and then
the distance
that 90’s kitsch      
in that corporate way              
its glow-in-the-dark frame
dark alleys
we are all body
are no longer body
we suffer
the mannequin
till suffering blooms
the alleys turn
laugh-lit knife-lit
of payphone booths
our girlhoods died in









Click here to read Claudia Cortese on the origin of the poem. Photo: by Photo by Michael McCauslin ; licensed under CC BY 2.0

Claudia Cortese: To be honest, I don’t remember writing this poem. I usually spend days, weeks, even years revising my work, though occasionally I find a poem in a file or scrawled in my journal and have no idea from where it came, and sometimes these fragments are better than the poems I re-write/re-order/re-think repeatedly. I am sure that many great poems by famous poets took years to write, but I have a hunch that just as many were written quickly. I also suspect that many brilliant poems dust the back pages of forgotten diaries, never to be read or seen. I am not arguing that a spirit moves through us when we write; I don’t romanticize the creative process. I compose my poems: they are born of my creativity and craft, my story and self. As a woman, my body is often considered public property; my intelligence under-estimated; my writing labeled “domestic,” “sentimental,” “confessional” (which has become a pejorative term). So, it’s important for me to take ownership of my work. I wonder, however, if I sometimes write kick-ass poems about which I forget not because I wrote them in some kind of spiritual trance but rather–in my mind–I simply hadn’t written a Poem (with a capital “P”). I was just playing with music and image; just rambling about what happened to me on the drive home from work; just stitching seemingly random phrases and memories together. In other words, I was just shooting the shit on the page and that turned out to be more interesting than when I tried to write Poetry.

Claudia Cortese
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